I was delivering dinner trays that evening on the Medical Unit. It was a shift change for the nursing staff when I got a late tray for a new patient. When I got to the patient’s bedside, he had the bed sheet pulled over his head. He would not respond when I asked his date of birth, and his hands were under the sheet so I couldn’t check his ID band.
I saw Shelly Shoemaker at the door. She was explaining something to another nurse. I explained to her that the patient wouldn’t answer me and that he was breathing funny. She immediately went in and tried to talk to him. She could hear his breathing was strange so she pulled the sheet off his head. He was trying to harm himself. Shelly intervened and told the other nurse to go get the charge nurse. At this point, I left the room because I would be in the way.
When what had happened settled into my brain I realized what I had witnessed. Shelly had told me that they had given the patient a sedative so he could sleep. He admitted the next day that he knew exactly what he was doing. Shelly saved his life.
Shelly responded quickly when I expressed concern for him. She was very professional in her duties. She kept talking to him to get him to respond. She showed him great compassion and encouragement in the following days during his stay. Shelly acted as if what she had done was not a big deal. I know that nurses save lives on a daily basis, but that night and the way Shelly responded is forever etched in my brain.
My outlook is much better because of Shelly. She is a hero in my eyes. I will always be grateful for what I witnessed that night. It’s made me more compassionate, more aware, and more considerate of our patients, their family members, and most of all the nurses.